#1. Until some time in the 19th century, lobster was considered low-class food that was barely good enough for prison inmates. The smelly pests that littered the shores of New England after a storm, were so unfavored that some penal colonies in early America forbade serving lobster more than once a week regarding it as cruel and unusual punishment. That probably had something to do with how they were prepared: dead lobsters were cooked and preserved in salt. More often, lobsters were ground up and used as fertilizer.
#2. The Apollo 11 computer guidance system that brought man to the moon, had approximately 64 KB of memory and a 0.043 MHz processor. Its functions were more basic than a toaster that has stop/start/defrost buttons. Astronauts controlled the computer by typing “verb noun pairs” as commands, which were input as numbers. The word pairs were written on a sign posted in the cockpit.
#3. When the Apollo 11 crew returned to the Eagle Lunar Module (below) after their historic moonwalk, the module’s pilot, Buzz Aldrin, accidentally broke the engine switch controlling the ascent engines. After undoubtedly a bit of concern, they managed to MacGyver the switch into action using a ballpoint pen.
Eagle lunar landing module of Apollo 11 (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
#4. Every day, 16 percent of searches made using Google have never been seen by Google before.
#5. The Japanese word “karaoke” means empty orchestra (kara = empty; oke = orchestra)
#6. When you look up at the night sky you’re actually looking tens of thousands of years in the past, because that’s how long it takes for light, traveling at 186,000 miles per second (300,000 km per second), from stars in our galaxy to reach us.
#7. There’s a tiny species of jellyfish, Turritopsis nutricula, considered immortal because when it faces a mortal threat, instead of dying, it can regenerate its cells back to a juvenile state. Genetically identical jellyfish have been found as far apart as far Japan, Spain, and Panama.
#8. A typical pencil can draw a line 35 miles long—if you were to try to. Pencils can also write under water and in zero gravity.
#9. Boston Red Sox left fielder Ted Williams was not only one of the best hitters in baseball history, he was also a talented fighter pilot. He missed almost five full seasons fighting first in WW II (1943-1945), then in the Korean War (1952-3). Despite his off-the-field time, he had a Hall of Fame career including being a two-time American League Most Valuable Player, six-time batting champion, a 17-time All-Star, and a two-time Triple Crown winner. In 1941 he batted .406 on the season and ended his career with 521 home runs.
#10. Lal Bihari spent 18 years, from 1976 to 1994, trying to convince the Indian government that he was alive despite their records showing him as dead. He even went as far as running for election to prove his existence. So many people in India find themselves in the same situation that Bihari founded the Association of the Dead to lobby the government to have their legal rights restored. Estimates of the number of people the association represents run between 10,000 and 40,000.
Lal Bihari (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)